Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Creating a Fantasy Hero by Lin Carter


One huge mystery surrounding Lin Carter's Jandar of Callisto books was why, in an article by him in the second issue of Savage Tales featuring Ka-Zar in the early seventies, it was announced that "Lin Cater's Jandar of Callisto will soon be featured in Marvel's upcoming science fiction magazine Worlds Unknown" There was a comic book called that, and I searched, but never found an issues with Jandar. There was also a black and white mag called Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction, also Marvel, but they never did Jandar either. My guess is that they planned such a series, but for some reason it never materialized. Similar to how DC announced that Tarzan the Terrible would follow their adaptation of Tarzan the Untamed, but it never happened, and DC cancelled Tarzan shortly after that. 

Above is the only piece of comic art known to feature Jandar, as he battles a Yahoon arthrapod. 

Anyway, this is the article by LC where he gives the secrets of Jandar, and how he crafted all the story elements to parallel ERB. No, there was never a well in Cambodia where he got the manuscripts. 

Click on each pic to blow it up. 

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Bruce Jones" Tarzan: the J H Rosny Connection

I already discussed this same tale years ago, in the post on Tarzan of the comics. But what I almost didn't think of , surprisingly, was how similar the concept behind Jones' particular story arc in the 90s Dark Horse is to Rosny's Ironcastle. When a pterosaur-like flying beast crashes a plane, the pilot (Paul D-Arnot? I really can't recall), says the was nothing like his experience, and asked if it could be an escapee from Pal-ul-don. Tarzan replies that they are far from the lost land, and that "this isn't thipdar flesh" (using the Pellucidar term for pterodactyl). I'm tempted to discuss here how the legendary Kongomatu might have come from a lost land, but never mind. So what is it? 
Other beasts that indeed resemble dinosaurs, pterosaurs, or like nothing on earth are starting to pop up locally, in the modern Congo, and no one seems to know why.
Save perhaps the mysterious girl named Kita who claims she hails from one of Africa's lost cities. Tarzan at first believes her to be lying, having seen the Cities of Fala for himself, and knows them to be in ruin. 

What they find though are the gleaming towers of a thriving civilization! Kita was telling the truth after all. After captures, escapes, and battles with mutants beasts, including a multilegged lioness and giant spider, they discover the truth: that Tarzan himself brought the spores of the Tara plant back from Barsoom. On its native world the tara plant was part of the Martian ecosystem: "The tara was eaten by the thoat, which was eaten by the banth, from whose droppings emerged again the tara." But on earth the tara has grown unchecked, having infected the local plant life, and altered the DNA of earth animals; some of them similar to those of the tara's home planet, such as the six-legged lioness. It's also revived Fala's ancient inhabitants, and allowed them to greatly augment their technology, possibly making Fala capable of conquering the world!

An alien spore affecting and taking over a foreign ecosystem, and mutating the flora and fauna.

Did this core concept originate with Rosny's Ironcastle, or is it just coincidence? 


Friday, June 17, 2022

Time Pockets in Tarzan's Africa?

 There are two Russ Manning story arcs in the Sunday strips that feature prehistoric creatures that take place in neither Pal-ul-don nor Pellucidar. 

  One has a villainous British officer kidnap Jane and retreat to a remote marshland with stifling heat far from any outpost or native village, thinking Tarzan will never find them. Jane and her captors are astonished to encounter a living brontosaurus, and then a mosasaur!

   Jane has no idea what the dinosaurs are doing in this part of Africa, far from the lost land of Pal-ul-don!

  The tylosaurus, crazed with hunger attacks the boat, devours several men, and Jane's captors are about to feed her to the beast in order to save themselves, when Tarzan shows up!

The mystery of the dinosaurs' presence, however, is never resolved. 

We just go into another story arc wherein Korak visits a lost civilization of kraken-worshipers, and another beautiful doomed female. Korak seems to be cursed with bringing doom on every girl he encounters, but that's a whole other topic. 

What are dinosaurs doing in Tarzan's Africa far from any lost world? 

Manning already established that Pal-ul-don (or at least his take on it in this timeline), exists in a sort of "time bubble" that allowed the prehistoric races and fauna to survive. Tarzan journeys back in time, perhaps to the mid-Cenozoic, when possibly a land-bridge or connecting continent (I've speculated), existed between Africa and South America. 

Later on, Manning suggests that other such time-bubbles exists, as the time when he, Jane, Korak and some friends attempt to exit Pal-ul-don on a sail-barge over what looks like part of the Sahara (it doesn't appear to be that great thorn desert). When they become separated in a sand storm, Tarzan stumbles across a war party of ancient Egyptian solider, as realizes that "the jungle is not the only place that harbors doorways through time". Afterward, of course, the story of the Stone Pharoah unfolds.

The other Manning tale to feature prehistoric beasts is the "Mammoth Amazons," in which Korak encounters a civilization of amazon warrior women who ride wooly mammoths. How did the giant beasts get there, mammoths being native to Eurasia, never Africa (Though Korak did encounter a mammoth, which he named Trompor,  once before in the Gold-Key comics, high in Pal-ul-don's mountain ranges, and also drawn by Manning.)

By the way, Korak, mammoths ARE elephants, just not like the ones native to Africa. 

Perhaps then, this is the explanation of why so many lost cities and realms exist in ERB's Africa. It was perhaps Manning's way of making it seem more credible that so many lost civilizations and a valley full of prehistoric men and beasts could remain undiscovered in the modern world.

What what is the reason for this? And what of the dinosaurs that appeared so unexpectedly? The tylosaurus seemed starving, so could it have come out of a time portal and was lost in the modern world? 

I postulated in a fic once, that perhaps all the lost lands of ERB's Africa were connected, perhaps by an alien intelligance, something like Farmer's crystal tree of time.

But again, if that's true of ERB's Africa, what about that even huger continent, Asia? Burroughs only had one story set there, the Jungle Girl, better known as the Land of Hidden Men

It's almost without a doubt that, had ERB set more stories in Asia, many more hidden realms would be uncovered. The there is the lost Viking colony Tarzan finds in North America in the non-canonical Tarzan on the Pricepice. So, no this cannot be a phenomena confined to Africa alone. And then there is the lost Mayan colony in Tarzan and the Castaways, the feudal Japanese culture in The Mucker. There is also all those wired lost realms Korak stumbled upon in his DC comic, while he wondered the earth searching for Merium. That deserves another post, though, as the authors even suggest that Greek goods were real and somehow in control of Korak's fate, and even the inclusion of Circe!

Some More Thoughts Regarding Tarzan's Most Recent Pal-ul-don Adventure (More On Pal-ul-don's Evolution)


I left off discussing how in the current online Tarzan adventure, Tarzan does encounter any other other large dinosaur species other than than the gryf. The Manning strips, which I grew up with, had a much great diversity of dinosaurs and giant mammals. 

I believe this is to keep the strip as true to the original as possible, and I doubt there will be any additional dinosaur species (save perhaps if they venture into the swamp region?)

I left off saying that ERB suggested there was a great profusion of unique wildlife in Pal-ul-don, some of the species ancestral forms of African wildlife, others unique strains evolved in islolation. The ja, or spotted lions might have been either. The authors introduce one other such species, a erthystic or red hyena. There might have been beast's like calicotheres and ancient giraffids among others. Who knows?  There is actually a profusion of "living fossils" and unique evolved wildlife here. Pal-ul-don would be a paleontologist's dream come true were it real.

However, what appears lacking as creatures as huge and dramatic as the gryf. The other wildlife would be of interest mainly to experts. 

The ja, jato, and gryf appear to be the only dangerous creatures inhabiting the land. That seems to rule out the other huge, meat-eating beasts that make travel in Caspak or Pellucidar a moment to moment hazard. Where are the huge flying reptiles that are a constant menace in those other lost lands? They don't appear to be native to Pal-ul-don, in spite of the Manning strips, and even the recent novel. Pterosaurs are flying creatures, by the way, and could easily fly over the barrier swamp (perhaps a layer of thick mist might keep winged reptiles from spreading throughout the rest of Africa?).

There was one other dinosaur and/or prehistoric reptile species in the canonical tale, the unidentified swamp saurian, which I've speculated elsewhere sounds very like s suchamimus or baryonyx. And what might have titantic reptilian monsters glimpsed by Tarzan in the swamp (gryfs, swamp saurians, or something else?). Other creatures like possibly a dwarf brontosaurus, as I've read speculated, could also live on there. 

The gryf, however, seems to be the only surviving dinosaur extant on the Pal-ul-don mainland. It is Pal-ul-don's most formidable creature, seeming to rule out similarly spectacular beasts, such as brontosaurus, stegosaurus, and T-rex. 

This a relatively small, isolated valley. In this case, Burroughs offers an example of what a real-life lost world might really be like. It is simply not big enough to hold the profusion of giant fauna found in typical lost realms, such as A C Doyle's Maple White Land, or ERB's own Caspak. Even a large island, could not possibly contain Caspak's teeming, Pellucidar like richness. And the primeval fauna that does survive has been altered over the millinea.

Manning's Pal-ul-don strips, of course, certainly do contain Pellucidar-like richness. Even the the stories (which I intend to actually chronicle here when I get the time!) seem more like Pellucidar tales, in that they involve a series of perils and escapes, while Manning's Pellucidar strips seem to be more about political intrigue, which is a bit more similar to Tarzan the Terrible

Then there are the old Dell comic Tarzans, that took Tarzan back to Pal-ul-don thoughout its long run. This seems a far different take on the lost land, and there are many Pellucidaran elements, including the names "thipdar" and "dyal". Just looking at the Dell version, and taking it as a separate timeline, it is posible that THIS version of Pal-ul-don actually connects with Pellucidar, and perhaps the humanoid inhabitants are Pellucidaran colonists. It is, then a portion of Pellucidaran existing on the surface. After all, they appear to lack tails, even though the Ho-don and A-lur are often shown. This might explain the Pellucidaran terms, and perhaps the similarity of the words "gryf" and "gyor" and "garth" and"zarith."

But back to the canonical ERB "universe." 

There is one passage in the novel that suggests cave-painting, depicting what appear to giant saurian-like creatures (correct me if I've wrong about this!). 

Perhaps, then, in the distant past, other giant Mesozoic survivors did inhabit the land. I've speculated in "Evolution in Pal-ul-don", that the lost land as depicted by Manning, which is supposed to exist in a sort of time bubble, and might be continent size, perhaps connecting Africa with South America sometime after the Cretaceous, after most of the dinosaurs died. 

Perhaps, giant dinosaurs and mammals slowly met final extinction as the land shrank, until only the gryf remained, taking its place as the valley's top predator and herbivore. Becoming omnivorous would most certainly be an advantage, since it was less specialize and able to survive on a wide diet of food. 

If large theropods such as the garth existed, they were less adaptable and died out. The Burroughs

Bestiary by David day, however, suggest something more bizarre, however: that the herbivorous ancestors of the gryf might have mated with tyrannosaurs to produce the carnivorous nightmares encountered by Tarzan! It is not feasible, of course, that a ceratopsian could be genetically compatible with a theropod. But, again, this is ERB's universe where stegosaurs can utilize their plates to glide, so who knows? We already know that the jato survived in the same manner by mixing with lions!

There is one other thing that Manning seems to have forgotten in his own stories, which doe not necessarily rule out other giant beasts in Pal-ul-don, but does suggest it. In both the Manning strips and ERB's novel, the Ho-don revere the gryf as almost a creature of supernatural, as it features prominantly in their relgious art. If other similarly spectacular monsters abound, then this seems far less feasible. Perhaps the Ho-don retain ancestral memories of such beasts, but that is long forgotten. If the gryf is the sole surviving mesozoic monster, than the of the Ho-don awe is more feasible, as is the role of the gryf in Ho-don culture. 

Then there is the fact that the Ho-don also use the gryfs as war-beasts, while in the novel, they seem astonished that Tarzan is able to ride on one's back! Somehow, they never learned from the Tor-o-don. Perhaps the Ho-don learned to domesticate the gryf following Tarzan's example, but Manning never explains this. 

The author of Tarzan's Return to Pal-ul-don suggests that a future sequel might also lead Tarzan to other corners of the lost land, where more giant survivors might lurk. But that will need to wait. 

Now on a personal basis, out of the three discussed versions of the lost land, does anyone have a "favorite"?

For me, I'd have to say Manning's, hands down. 

The Dell version's relatively poor artwork, and the fact that they borrow from the rest of Tarzan's Africa plus Pellucidar rule it out. Plus, no tails. The tailed inhabitants are what makes Pal-ul-don unique among lost lands. It's just not Pal-ul-don without the monkey men. 

And the canonical version, as innovative and realistic as it is, the answer is obvious. You just don't get the diversity of large prehistoric fauna.

Manning gives us the best of both worlds. 

J H Rosny's Ironcastle--an Atypical Lost World


I just finished re-reading J. H. Rosny's Ironcastle. Rosny is called often the ERB of France, and actually he co-wrote his novels, or some of them, with his brother. I have an old paperback edition, though supposedly a new edition is is soon to be printed that shows more of Roy Krenkel's great art on the cover. The interior illos are all by Krenkel as well, and Phillip Jose Farmer both translated and apparently edited it some, though I have little idea just how much change he may have made. Rosny also authored Quest for Fire and The Great Cat, both novels of cavemen during the Plesticene, and since I haven't read those, I don't know much of his writing save for this, which may in fact contain too much of Farmer's embellishments. 

  Not that that doesn't make a great read. One embellishment that seems almost certain is that Farmer throws in reference to Doc Savage and AC Doyle's Maple White Land. The lost world that Ironcastle and his friends discover in the dark heart of Africa contains no dinosaurs, and in general, no actual prehistoric beasts, save for maybe a huge cave-lion that may be a Plesticene relic. 

There are a species of proto humans called "stunted men" who kidnap the obligatory love interest Murial at one point. There is also one dinosaur relation, a possibly prehistoric crocodilian beast, that is both warm-blooded and furred, with a third eye in the middle of his forehead. The cluster of photo-receptive cells possessed by some lizards and amphibians has developed into an actual eye in this species. The same has happened with a large three-eyed toad, which is also covered in hair (warm-blooded as well?) 

Other creatures inhabiting the land include small birds with fantastic hued, jewel-like colors, preyed on by huge flies, lion-sized leopards with blue-spots, giant, erythistic lions the shade of a red fox, purple and pink hippos four-tusked elephants (gomphotherium, or something else?), among many others. It's a fantastic managerie Rosny gives us. There are also scaled, green-furred sentient beings with cylindric heads. Most of the vegetation is a weird blue or purple, and seems in some strange symbiotic relation with the region's incredible wildlife. 

All this is, as the blurb informs us, this section of Africa has been transformed by an intelligence from the stars. They eventually discover the remnants of a crashed spacecraft, the alien pilot intact, although this being seems to have been neither animal nor plant, but something in between, and the region's weird plant life has "grown" from the deceased alien, and turn, has transformed the native fauna into the fantastic forms that now inhabit the land. Unfortunately, it appears the root system is now dying, which will eventually spell the animal life that depend on it as well. The hidden world may not survive but for a few more months. or perhaps it will revert back into "normal" African species.

It's an engrossing story, and the whole concept of the alien plant that creates and sustains the lost world seems distinctly Farmer-esque. He may be the one who came up with the concept, though I'm unfamiliar with Rosny's other writing. The alien system sort of recalled the "crystal tree of time" in Farmer's Tarzan pastiche The Dark Heart of Time

And it kind of begs the question: if there is indeed overlap between ERB's world and this one, could or did Tarzan ever visit Ironcastle's lost realm? Maybe not that we know of. But there was a lost valley that Tarzan discovered back in DC's Tarzan 235, drawn by Kubert, "The Magic Herb." This world also looks like someplace transformed by something from outer space as well. Tarzan battles a creature that resembles one of the giant creodont predators of the Miocene, only with saber-teeth, and then the horned serpent-like beast. And then there are the lizard-like (warm-blooded?) inhabitants. Hmmmm...

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Tarzan: the New Adventures

 The All-New Adventures of Tarzan are now available in hardback graphic novel format from (you guessed it) Dark Horse comics. Well, the first two of them are anyway. 

The art for the first story is by Thomas Grindberg, and that for the second is by the Buscema-like Benito Gallego, both of them New Masters in the comic art field today. 

The first story-arc has Jane and Paul D'Arnot plane crash into an unknown region, apparently not too distant from Opar. Tarzan, refusing to believe the death of his mate without proof,  begins his quest, Nkima in tow. The two are briefly misled into thinking Jane is in Opar, where La once again demands Tarzan become her mate siking Ben-Id-Numa (great silver lion) upon him. Tarzan is forced to slay the beast, and several of La's beast-men minions, before continuing his quest. 

Meanwhile Jane and Paul are captured by ancient Greek soldiers and taken to New Illium, where the twin colonies of ancient Sparta and Troy still war. Yes, it's the same grand old tradition Burroughs himself revisited time and again in his novels wherein twin lost cities tribes or races perpetually feuded. 

But the authors insert a difference here to the formula; these are not the descendants of the ancient Trojans and Greeks, but the very same people, apparently knocked out and kept immortalized by a strange subterranean gas in the early days of the colony (a bit reminiscent of Bruce Jones' tale of the  Martian Tara plant regenerating an entire lost civilization in his earlier Dark Horse series). Thus the young beauty who is a dead-ringer for Jane is the ACTUAL and legendary Helen of Troy! There ensues a great adventure in the Burroughsian tradition, that has Tarzan siding with the enemies of Jane's captors, Nkima kidnapped by Bolgoni-Mangani-Oparian hybrids, and Jane turning the tables on Helen of Troy, and assuming her role. All is eventually resolved the heroes depart the land of New Illium with a truce of sorts enacted between the cities. 

Jane was supposed to be a beauty, but who new she was a vertible twin of the fabled Helen? No wonder all the villains of ERB seem to fall for her. 

The next tale begins as a sort of sequel to Tarzan and the Leopard Men, with an apparent revival of the dreaded cult, and one of them seeking Tarzan's death in revenge. It turns out though, that the leopard cult is being used for something even more monstrous and bizarre, that has more connection with  ERB's The Monster Men than the other Tarzan books. There is even a reference to The Island of Dr. Moreau, suggesting that perhaps the worlds of H. G. Wells and ERB co-exist. 

 The third story-arc takes place in Pal-ul-don, and is still going on in the online comic, but it appear it has nearly ended. Tarzan returns to the lost land with Nkima, where he first battles a jato, or saber-tooth lion-tiger over a kill, when both he and the strange feline become mired in quick sand. After helping each other escape, there is a truce between man and beast. While they don't become immediate friends, like in the old Kubert story of Go-Numa and the Black queen (why didn't this happen with Ben-Id-Numa?), and Tarzan and the jato go their separate ways, it is apparent that the two shall meet again, and the incident is not a one-off. Next Tarzan encounters a gryf, and having learned the trick of the Tor-o-don from his previous visited, Tarzan is soon riding on his back. A bit of sequence is also given to ja, the large spotted lions of the valley, as a pride of them drive some young jatos from their kill. The ja is one animal that is somehow rarely seen in Pal-ul-don comics. 

Next they encounter a young girl-warrior of the Waz-ho-don tribe, pursued by a giant -sized Tor-o-don. The gryf slays the huge man-beast, and Tarzan learns that the girl is called In-A, and she is on the run from  Ko-Bar, the Tor-o-don leader who has murdered her parents, outcasts of Pal-ul-don's two major races. and bent on conquering all Pal-ul-don, by first assaulting the captial. Just like in the novel Tarzan's Return to Pal-ul-don, the authors explore the Waz-ho-don race, composed of outcasts of Waz-don and Ho-don, that Burroughs never got around to utilizing as major players. Though Lt. Obergatz, a villain of Tarzan the Terrible, had spent some time among them.  While the warrior in Return was white-skinned with black fur, In-a has skin of a purple or violet shade. Anyway, Ko-bar leads an attack on A-lur, City of Light, and Tarzan is captured, and later forced to fight a huge jato in the arena. 

At this point, remembering an earlier scene, we can easily guess what happens here. And that In-a will finally get revenge. 

It might be useful to point out at this point there are no other dinosaur species here other than the gryf. Somehow, it seemed obvious that this would be the case, almost from the start. They are assuming that this is Tarzan's first return to Pal-ul-don after Tarzan the Terrible, and all those Manning adventures never occurred, and likely won't occur. This is the Pal-ul-don Burroughs invented. Ko-Bar's Tor-o-don army is carried on gryfs, as they should be. There are no garths or hackers. The Ho-don have not managed to train the gryf. One other mammal native to Pal-ul-don gets shown, a species of "red hyena". A red coloration, known scientifically as erythristism, which has been recorded very rarely in leopards, to name one species. 

Burroughs states early on TTT, that Pal-ul-don appears a land where "every known species of bird and beast appears to have taken refuge." The animals Tarzan encounters represent ancestral forms of modern African animals ("forms unaltered for countless millenia") or new strains that have developed when isolated within the small valley. The ja, though I've it assumed to be ancestral, could be either of these. The red hyena, seems a species or subspecies that is uniquely evolved in Pal-ul-don. The stranger beasts that Tarzan was NOT familiar with might be now-extinct creatures like calicotheres or extinct relatives of the giraffe like small sivatheres. 

Gigantic mammals like indrictherium or deinotherium? Probably not. The gryf seems to be the only giant creature, retile or mammal extant on Pal-ul-don's mainland. 

It's a zoologists paradise, but not one overrun by giant reptiles or mammals as it is in the Manning strips. 

We're now onto another topic, and I think only a different post can do it justice. 

And here is a pic from the Karl Shuker website of what a erthyistic or 'red' hyena might actually look like:

You can read the entire article here:


Groo meets Tarzan

 Last year, Dark Horse published their Groo meets Tarzan mini series, as a sort of follow-up to their previous Groo meets Conan. The art for the Tarzan parts is again by Thomas Yeates, one of the few comics Greats in the business. The art is wonderful, as always, though I'd be satisfied with a straight Tarzan story, and I'm not that much into Sergio Argones. 

Part of the the comic is devoted to Argones adventures getting to a comic con, with lots of jokes in regard to him being mistaken for the writer of spy vs. spy. 

The Tarzan portion of the tale has Tarzan and Nkima clashing with a group of villainous Arab slavers. Groo and his faithful Rufferto journey through what seems to be Argones version of Africa, where they encounter the Africa of ERB, and the two (or four) of them team to defeat the slavers. 

This tale is spread out over a total of four issues. What's really notable is that the land of Pal-ul-don plays a large role here, but it's largely behind the scenes. Riding on Tantor's back Tarzan and Nkima pass through the lost land in the first issue, and we see two sauropods and a gryf in the background. That's about it though, until the issue four. 

Now you might notice that the picture above seems to promise a plethora of dinosaurs. When I saw it, I reminded myself that it might be misleading, as unfortunately it proved to be. 

There are very few dinosaurs therein, though Tom Yeates makes very good use of those that are. 

Tarzan and Groo don't even reach Pal-ul-don, as the cover suggests. What happens is that Tarzan misleads the slavers into following the wrong path. The villains think they've escaped justice, only to find they're trapped in a dinosaur-infested valley, where they're devoured by a garth (or Pal-ul-donian t-rex).